Brands like YETI, RTIC and Pelican, which we have examined below, are largely responsible for the decade-long rise in quality of modern coolers. Going to the beach with my family and spending Saturday afternoons at the soccer stadium are two of my favorite childhood memories.
The family cooler was crucial to both events, but it was ultimately ineffective. The ice melted and turned the contents from cool to unpleasantly slushy and wet.
Those days are long gone.
To help you choose the best option, we have put together the most detailed comparison of YETI, RTIC and Pelican.
With so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which brand is worth your hard earned money.
We have extensively compared and contrasted all three to help you choose the best cooler for your needs. Read on to find out which cooler is ideal for your needs!
Should You Buy a Cooler or Not?
Yes, I believe modern coolers can keep food and drinks cold for days thanks to improvements in design and technology.
I would probably still respond the same way even if refrigeration technology was not as advanced as it is. It was best to keep food, drinks and other things cold in those old coolers, even if they could not hold the cold for very long.
Despite the counterintuitive nature of their short lifespan, this was still the best choice for weekend camping trips. On those trips, the lack of a cooler meant certain disaster.
In saying this, I am only suggesting that even outdated appliances are reasonable and effective. Of course, we are not like that at all. These three are a hundred times more efficient than conventional coolers (YETI, RTIC and Pelican) and can keep your food cold for several days.
YETI vs RTIC vs Pelican: Overview
All three of the above companies make both soft and hard ice boxes. If you are not familiar with freezers, you may be confused about the variations and what tasks are best suited for each.
The short answer is that soft coolers are more convenient to carry because they are usually designed in a backpack format.
However, the lack of a hard plastic shell means that they are significantly less effective. In other words, convenience comes at the expense of productivity.
However, they are a perfectly reasonable choice, especially for hikers and other frequent foot travelers.
Hard coolers are preferable if you are traveling by car or other mode of transportation that can easily carry the cooler.
The bottom line is that soft coolers are the right choice if you are constantly on the go, especially on foot, while hard coolers are the right choice if you are looking for the best performance for an infrequent trip to the beach or mountains.
It’s not hard to understand why YETI has become the best known of the three brands.
What YETI has done differently than other cooler manufacturers is that they make their products seem exciting and engaging. In other words, they have successfully applied Nike’s swoosh marketing strategy to coolers. To be part of such a group and lifestyle is great.
But YETI is not just a flashy name without substance. Quality is what YETI is famous for. Their refrigeration units are second to none in terms of quality and durability. Going on a trip or going camping? The contents of a YETI cooler will stay cold for days.
At YETI, you can choose from a wide selection of soft and hard coolers. Popular models like the Hopper Flip 12 Soft Cooler are aimed at casual travellers who have a smaller footprint.
Hard and soft coolers, on the other hand, are extreme and seem to be aimed at enthusiasts, although the model is practical. The Tundra 75 Hard Cooler, the Hopper Backflip 24 Soft Cooler and so on and so forth all deserve recognition.
In terms of size and design, YETI offers more flexibility than any competitor.
RTIC does not offer nearly as many choices as YETI. There are soft coolers such as the Lightweight Backpack Cooler, the Day Cooler, and the Backpack Cooler, but hard coolers are far less common.
As expected, the most popular product is the 65 QT Hard Cooler, which is right in the middle of the available sizes. Therefore, this size is also the most popular choice among customers.
It is unfortunate that the handles and locks of hard-sided coolers are so similar to those of YETI products, but it appears that the vast majority of coolers use these features.
However, in terms of construction quality, handling, and overall durability, it falls short of YETI.
I am sure most people do not place much value on aesthetics, but we certainly would have appreciated it if RTIC had come up with some unique and creative designs. Most of the patterns are boring and there is only a small selection of colours to choose from.
Although RTIC’s cost is fair, it is not a good option compared to the other two. In my opinion, RTIC is only useful for very small, soft coolers.
The pelican is as robust as it gets.
In addition to their other features, Pelican coolers are distinguished by their unique aesthetics. Ease of use and durability of design are paramount. For this reason, Pelican coolers are considered the most durable on the market.
The locks and handles, among others, are different from those of YETI and RTIC, as they seem to be built to last forever.
You have a lot of choice in hard-sided coolers, but there is less choice in soft-sided coolers. That said, the Pelican Dayventure Sling Cooler and the Pelican Dayventure Backpack Cooler seem to be the most practical soft coolers for most people.
When it comes to hard coolers like YETI, the 70 QT Elite Cooler is the most popular type, as it is designed for families rather than solo adventurers.
For the price and what you get in terms of durability and quality, Pelican seems like a fantastic choice.
Local Store Coolers vs YETI, RTIC & Pelican
Compared to the coolers sold in local stores, the price of these three companies’ hard and soft coolers seems astronomical.
Technology is a factor. When you compare the coolers from the different brands side by side, it’s easy to see how much effort has gone into optimizing the designs for efficient cooling. The patterns were designed with maximum ventilation in mind.
Also, the manufacturing cost of rotationally molded coolers is quite high. Of course, since it is a luxury item, the prices should be far more than what you would pay in a normal store.
And now I want to talk about local store coolers, or cheap coolers as I like to call them. Most “coolers” are not refrigeration, but merely containers that give the impression that they are cooling.
However, they do an excellent job of serving their purpose, which is to reduce heating.
Not all coolers are terrible, but research shows that most of them are not fantastic either.
Coolers like those from YETI, RTIC and Pelican are in a class by themselves.
YETI vs RTIC: Which One is Better?
Namely YETI. There is simply no alternative to this method. Although they seem to cost about the same, we find that YETI is of much higher quality and lasts much longer.
Also, RTIC seems to be the standard grocery shop cooler compared to the sleek and original designs of YETI.
RTIC does offer a few different soft coolers, but competition from YETI’s Hopper M30 soft cooler or the Hopper Flip 18 soft cooler makes it hard to recommend RTIC.
Even though YETI is the superior cooler brand, RTIC’s small soft coolers are hard to beat. In this particular scenario, ultra-compact coolers like the Soft Pack Cooler or the Day Cooler would be ideal.
It all depends on your needs, but we think YETI is the clear winner.
YETI or Pelican: Which One is Better?
By this point, it should be obvious that Pelican’s products are different from those of YETI and RTIC.
Pelican, like the other two companies, offers extremely rugged coolers, but today they are all on about the same quality scale. You can just tell by looking at them that Pelican hardshell coolers are built to last.
But not everyone has the pressing need for a super-rugged, top-of-the-line cooler. I understand why Pelican makes these coolers, but the average consumer should not buy them.
In other words, you spend most of your time traveling, so a Pelican cooler is not a good investment unless you expect to be in tough situations.
For occasional use at the lake, however, a Pelican cooler is probably too much of a good thing. Whether you are looking for a soft or hard cooler, YETI is the better choice in these situations.
But I have to say that I am still very impressed with Pelican’s hard coolers.
RTIC vs Pelican: Which One is Better?
This example also parallels the earlier case between these two. Only one of these manufacturers specialises in producing coolers for enthusiasts; the others are more general consumer products. The former is known as Pelican, the latter as RTIC.
However, compared to Pelican and especially YETI, RTIC’s offerings do not seem to be any better.
It’s the kind of situation where you assume the cheapest brand is this one, but you’d be wrong. RTIC has received some criticism, but also a lot of praise. But after talking it over with you, I have come to the conclusion that Pelican is the better choice.
Final Verdict: YETI vs RTIC vs Pelican
To be honest, you will not find a cooler at your local hardware store that compares to these. Many cheap and no-name coolers are simply standard plastic containers with a cooling promise printed on them, but in reality they only slow down the heating process.
If you are considering whether to buy a cooler from one of these three brands or from the hardware store, you are definitely better off with one of the former. But not everyone will like them.
We found YETI to be the best value among the three options. While it may not meet the standards of cooling enthusiasts, it should be more than adequate for the typical customer.
But if you are a serious explorer who needs a rugged cooler for your long, arduous travels, Pelican has the right choice for you.
However, RTIC is in a strange position. You might think it’s the cheaper of the two, and that would be OK, but in reality it’s just as expensive as the YETI, and you get even less. The two alternative offerings are much better in our opinion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What warranty does Yeti offer?
To ensure that you, the consumer, are satisfied with your purchase, the Yeti team offers an extensive limited warranty on most of its products. The YETI Tundra Series and the YETI Roadie Series are just two examples of coolers that come with a long warranty.
The YETI Camino Carryall and the YETI Lowlands Blanket are two examples of products that are not coolers and are covered by the company’s 3-year warranty.
You should not rely on receiving a new YETI product if you damage it in any way (including puncturing or scratching it), but the company will promptly address any issues with manufacturing or materials.
Q: What warranty does RTIC offer?
Compared to the warranty of YETI, that of RTIC is much more limited. Most RTIC products are covered by a one-year warranty, but day coolers are only covered for 90 days. To maintain your ice storage warranty, you must perform tests according to the guidelines provided.
Q: What warranty does Pelican offer?
The latch, handle, wheel and drain components are not covered by Pelican’s warranty, just like its competitors.
However, the company stands behind its roto-moulded products, promising that they will be free from defects in materials and workmanship for one year after purchase. Unlike injection-moulded cases, Pelican roto-moulded cases are generally not covered by the company’s limited lifetime warranty.
Be sure to check the length of the limited warranty, as roto-moulded coolers are generally not covered for life. Another reason YETI ‘s high price is justified is that few other companies offer warranties as long as YETI, which can be as long as five years on some of their coolers.
Q: Is RTIC owned by YETI?
In fact, RTIC is one of the main competitors of YETI. YETI does not own the rights to this brand name. In fact, the two companies once had a public dispute in court. They are certainly not related in any way.